Inside the Capitol

Sunday, March 30, 2008

4-11 Is Carville Really Upset about Richardson's Obama Endorsement?

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- James Carville just won't give up insisting that Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama was such a high level betrayal that he deserves to be compared with Judas. What bigger betrayer was there than Judas?
So was Richardson's endorsement of someone other than the wife of the guy who appointed him to two cabinet posts the height of political treachery?
I can tell you this. You can bet the ranch that it isn't written anywhere that a political appointee owes everlasting favors to the person who appointed him. That would be a violation of some of our oldest federal laws.
And maybe that is why Bill Clinton isn't saying much about Richardson's endorsement. But I also haven't heard him telling Carville to back off. It may be that Carville, who managed Clinton's first presidential campaign in 1992, is repaying a favor.
Of course, there also is the matter of unwritten laws. Richardson didn't hesitate to inform his political appointees that he expected them to go to Iowa and New Hampshire to campaign for his presidential bid.
Carville insists the Clintons didn't put him up to hounding Richardson incessitantly. So maybe he is just enjoying more face time in the news than he has had since 1992. Carville says he expected the coverage his remark received.
Three top Clinton fundraisers, according to Carville, had called Richardson and received assurances he would endorse Clinton. Maybe Richardson did it, but maybe the people heard what they wanted to hear -- and what they were hoping report back to the Clinton campaign.
Richardson has negotiated with some of the world's slipperiest foreign leaders and knows how to let people believe what they want to believe.
We do know that Richardson was receiving many calls from Clinton surrogates urging an endorsement of their candidate. He compared the Clinton campaign for his endorsement to carpet bombing.
It seems unlikely Richardson gave three of his callers different stories from the rest -- or different stories than he gave the Clintons personally.
Richardson told a New York Times reporter before his Obama endorsement that he didn't mind being pestered by all the Clinton surrogates.
But he must not be wanting to talk about his decision anymore. He reportedly isn't returning calls to Bill Clinton and probably not to surrogates either. And he has quit agreeing to interviews on the subject.
Carville sounds downright incensed about Richardson's Obama endorsement. But I doubt he really is. As probably the most outlandish voice on the left, he is married to Mary Matalin, one of the more outlandish voices on the right.
Carville and Matalin apparently have a very happy marriage and two lovely girls. If they truly believe the words that come out of their mouths, mayhem would have broken out long ago.
I would love to hear their nighttime conversations after the girls are in bed. My bet is they laugh at the rest of the world. As this column has often maintained, politics is just a game.
Richardson's endorsement of Obama likely will mean little, if anything. That happens to be the official position of the Clinton campaign, by the way. But Carville is having fun making Richardson squirm.
How long will Richardson be in the Clinton doghouse? Probably forever. The Clinton's keep score. Richardson and Carville will never be friends either, but then they never really have been.
Richardson keeps score too. And Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez is in Richardson's doghouse. The two never have been close. They're too much alike.
Chavez got out of the governor's race in 2002 as soon as Richardson made his intentions known. And he got out of the U.S. Senate race when Richardson threw his support to Tom Udall.
But Richardson received reports that a Chavez backer was in Iowa campaigning for Clinton. Chavez said it was not at his direction, but Richardson's vetoes indicate he feels otherwise.
FRI, 4-11-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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